In September last year, I made the 235 journey ‘oop north’ to Manchester for BlogOn Xmas. It was an amazing, if tiring, day and I was left buzzing with knowledge. One of the best things was getting to meet so many other bloggers in real life, too! Probably needless to say, I signed up for BlogOn X and booked a hotel room as soon as the tickets went live. I kind of enjoyed this event too, but unfortunately the day went rather differently for me this time.
Travel & launch party
We left later on Saturday than we’d wanted to. Unfortunately, we ended up stuck in traffic due to a couple of accidents and a horsebox fire. This led to the journey up to Manchester taking a couple of hours longer than it would have done otherwise. I was disappointed as I’d wanted to get to explore the city a bit. One of my main regrets about BlogOn Xmas was that I didn’t get to see much of Manchester. I’m adamant I’ll get to explore when I go to BlogOn in the future – I probably just need to find the money for two nights in a hotel rather than one!
Anyway, due to stress and sunshine, I developed a terrible headache which made me feel dizzy, sick and light-sensitive. As soon as we got checked in, I took some painkillers and had a nap.
I felt a bit better when I woke up and forced myself to stick a bit of makeup on and head up to the launch party. It had started about an hour and a half earlier and I think I’d pretty much missed all the fun! Also, I was on my own and pretty much everyone was in groups so I felt like a bit of a sad loner. I walked around the edge looking over Manchester, spoke to a couple of familiar faces and left again. It’s a real shame I missed out on the fun of the Paladone games, which had been abandoned by the time I arrived.
We stayed at the Premier Inn across the road last time as it was much cheaper. However, this time we splashed out a bit more and stayed at Hotel Football where the event was taking place. This was largely due to the fact that when we stayed in the Premier Inn last time, Autumn was crawling and found lots of horrible looking hair wrapped around the bath plug!
There was a noticeable difference in quality, even as you arrive. At the Premier Inn, the receptionist was on the phone to someone else while she gave us our keys and spoke to us vaguely. This time at Hotel Football, however, the receptionist was very friendly and helpful. (This isn’t to say you shouldn’t stay at the Premier Inn, by the way. I’ve heard lots of good feedback about it, perhaps we were just unlucky back in September!) The icing on the cake was when she told us we’d been upgraded to a stadium facing room. Manchester United is my husband’s team, so it was a wonderful view to have.
Everything in the room was spotless and plush, although with the quality of everything else I was surprised to find that the toilet roll was very cheap! There were the usual hotel treats of things like soap, shampoo and lotion. However, there was also a mini bar which was amazing.
The bed was very comfortable and I wish I could have brought the walk-in rainforest shower home with me. When I got back from the launch party, Autumn was asleep in the travel cot, so my husband and I hid in the shower so that we didn’t wake her up! I sat on a couple of very soft folded towels, but my husband said that the tiles were surprisingly comfortable.
BlogOn X Morning
When I woke up in the morning, I didn’t feel very well at all. I’ve deduced that it was caused by lovely female hormonal stuff that’s only happened to me since giving birth. Anyway, I was in a lot of pain and felt extremely sick, so much so that I didn’t really feel like eating breakfast. Unfortunately, when I feel unwell, it really flares up my anxiety problems. Nevertheless, I managed to eat some watermelon and most of a croissant. The man working on the podium in Cafe Football was lovely and smiley, as were the other staff there. Autumn and Dave both enjoyed their cooked breakfasts. It was wonderful just watching people sailing by on the canal on their barges as we ate, with the stadium in the background.
I signed in when I needed to, but skipped out on most of the keynote unfortunately. I decided to go back to the hotel room, dose up on medication and rest. There had been sad news about Sir Alex Ferguson having a brain haemorrhage the night we arrived and I could see media outside with the stadium as a backdrop. Whilst I felt awful, I did enjoy people watching. There was something I liked about watching the scarf sellers, seeing people playing football outside the stadium and watching people take selfies.
When check out time came, I was feeling slightly better, but not much. I was getting seriously worried about how much I was missing out on BlogOn, though. I asked my husband if we could go and get some sandwiches and get some fresh air in a park, hoping it’d buck me up enough for one of the early afternoon sessions I wanted to attend. Only bout a third of my sandwich got eaten, but I did begin to feel a little better. Autumn loved running around in the park, shouting “DUCK!” whenever she saw a pigeon and running towards it.
Back at BlogOn
When I got back to Hotel Football, I was still feeling quite dizzy and sick. However, I decided to try and make the most of it. After all, I didn’t want to waste 235 miles of travel and a fair chunk of money! I attended the live video editing workshop and got some great tips from Luke of The Woodhouse Life. I’ve been watching him for a while and it was lovely to meet him. While writing is more my thing, I know that not everyone can be bothered to read blog posts and I do want to move into vlogging a bit more.
After that session was over, I went down to the brand den. It was great seeing what was on offer from the brands, although they were beginning to tidy things away and some were deliberately not making eye contact with me as I walked over to start a conversation with them. Unfortunately, I missed out on about half of what was there. However, it was lovely to see Ane from Wire PR and she gave me a Peppa Pig laptop to review. Autumn loves it already! I was also impressed to find out about Vionic shoes and how they are built for comfort and to support the arch. I tried some on and they felt pretty amazing!
As most people were packing away, I went upstairs to where The CoOp were. The stand with flowers on was beautiful. I was delighted to find out about how their roses are Fair Trade and how they are supporting the communities that grow them with doctors and schools amongst other things. There was a specific emphasis on how the women in these communities are being helped, which is something I’m particularly passionate about.
Raffle & Goody Bags
I’d bought several raffle tickets, but unfortunately didn’t win anything again. Because I hadn’t been around for much of the day, I’d also missed out on a lot of the competitions! However, I was excited about collecting my goody bag as I knew I was in for a treat. I was not left disappointed, as there were so many wonderful things included from various brands. I haven’t got around to thanking them all yet, but I’m very grateful for everything. Now comes the problem of finding places to put it all!
I was particularly pleased with my lovely goody bag from The CoOp. It contained wine with small cups on the top for when you’re out and about, perhaps having a picnic, which I thought was great. There was an eco-friendly pouch of wine, delicious chocolate, very tasty crisps and some beautiful flowers. All of these were Fair Trade, of course!
After quite a mixed bag of a day, I met my husband and Autumn outside the hotel. Thank goodness I had him to help me with my full suitcase, two big bags and my rucksack! I heard that they’d had a lovely time at the Sea Life Centre, where Autumn had loved looking at the turtles. Dave had also showed her things in the shop, where she selected a turtle and gave it a great big kiss!
We’d also bought her her first football kit and we took some photos of her in front of the stadium.
She even practised her goal scoring face!
Fortunately, the journey home went quite smoothly. We stopped at a services on the way home, where Autumn made friends with the cleaner, as seems to be tradition now! I can’t say I didn’t sleep well, as I crashed as soon as I could; but I certainly missed the lovely soft king sized bed at Hotel Football!
Did you go to BlogOn X? What was your experience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!